Abigail Adams to John Adams
Quincy December 25 1796
my Dearest Friend
Was it ever colder in this Country. the glasses have fallen much below 0, tho a bright sunshine on fryday and saturday. many people froze their feet hands and Ears. I really compasionate you that you must Sleep alone. not one Day here since the 23 of Novbr in which it has thaw’d so as to Drop from the houses. the snow is very level and near a foot deep. our people are getting wood home. Billings has made a New Sled, and if the weather holds we shall sled some stones. water very Scarce. we are threatned with a very hard and cold Winter. we have no preaching to Day. if we had the weather is too cold for Me to venture abroad. I have read G Mifflins Speach. it is more Complimentary than I expected to the President, and is not destitute of patriotick sentiments as it respects our Country. he probably thought an atonement necessary for the part Pennsilvanna had taken in the late Election.1 Abraham ventured not so far as to limit his Number to one Righteous Man, when he plead for the city.2 I would hope however that both Virginna & Pennssilvana have a much larger Number. the Hungry Patriots, we are informd have run beyond the bounds of their credit. I do not compasionate them. their fall will serve as Warnings to others, & eventually benifit the publick. the numerous Banks I hope will be diminishd, and a more rational system, than these immense speculations, these Phantom Nabobs, will Succeed to them, upon more solid and durable foundations. the President in his speach and the Senate in their reply notice the inadequate compensation of publick officers. I am informd that in the Houses answer, the first Draught of which was sent on last week as agreed to in committe, that no notice was taken of that part of the speach. it is an evil of no small Magnitude, and will in the event prove dishonorable to our Country as well as Dangerous.3
[“]Dovoid of decent show,
How soon does power to trampled Weakness grow?
How soon base minds the feeble judge deride
And beggar’d rulers quake at Wealthy Pride?”4
We have so many restless Spirits in the union that I am at a loss to know who in Particular you allude to. Pains pamphlet can do no Hurt. I most sincerely wish it circulated it is so opposite to the Voice of the Nation, so low & Vilely abusive that neither he or Jaspir can do any other service, than open the Eyes of the Blind. I am at a loss for the politicks of Virginna, unless they intended that Burr should not be V P. I had no Idea but that those who voted for Jefferson, would vote also for Burr in that state. it was quite a surprize giving 14 to S A. their policy was however weak, and their judgments wholy warped by Faction our News papers declare the Election, and have hopes of an additional Number of votes.5 Yet no person mentions the station, but as a post of difficulty and Danger. I could sincerely Join with Dr Clark and say in the words of Moses, when looking to the Mount, If thou o Lord go not up with us, carry us not up theither.6
I have not any Letter from you of a later date than the 12th I should be glad of a post Note, at the New Year. My Blacksmith & Coach Mender &c call to settle for the Year. I should have been glad to have taken up Genll Lincolns Note, before he goes on to Philadelphia7
The minority in the House of Reps is small. they ought to Blush if they had any generous feelings they would. is there one of them all whose Character if Weighd by the hand of Justice, and Virtue honour & probity were put in the Scale, would not its opposite fly up & kick the Beam?
consistant in wrong measures, poor Reptiles, censure is Your Due, and that from the pen & Heart / of Your affectionate
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mrs A. 25. Decr 1796 / Ansd 5. Jan. 1797.”
1. Gov. Thomas Mifflin gave a lengthy address before the Pennsylvania legislature on 10 Dec. in which he highlighted recent achievements of the federal government and praised George Washington as “a Patriot, who has so meritoriously swayed the affections of his fellow citizens; and so successfully executed the councils of his country” that “the rich inheritance of his example and his fame, shall be the palladium and pride of our latest posterity!” While the speech does not appear to have been printed in Boston, an excerpt reprinted in the Worcester Massachusetts Spy, 21 Dec., was prefaced by comments similar to those expressed by AA: “Governour Mifflin, of Pennsylvania, has hitherto, by many, been considered as unfriendly to the present administration of our Federal Government, and to the measures which have been adopted for the preservation of our country in peace and prosperity. It is, therefore, with peculiar satisfaction, that we notice the following sentiments, extracted from his late lengthy address” (Journal of the Senate of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Commencing on Tuesday, the Sixth Day of December, in the Year of Our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Ninety-Six, Phila., 1797, p. 10–19, Evans, description begins Charles Evans and others, American Bibliography: A Chronological Dictionary of All Books, Pamphlets and Periodical Publications Printed in the United States of America [1639–1800], Chicago and Worcester, 1903–1959; 14 vols. description ends No. 32653).
2. Genesis, 18:22–33.
3. In Washington’s address to Congress, he particularly noted the need for “legislative revision” regarding the compensation for governmental offices, especially “the most important stations.” He expressed concern that the need for “private wealth” would limit the pool of candidates and that “it would be repugnant to the vital principles of our government, virtually to exclude, from public trusts, talents and virtue, unless accompanied by wealth.” The Senate concurred in its reply, but the House’s reply, approved on 15 Dec., made no mention of the subject (U.S. Senate, Jour., description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States of America, Washington, D.C., 1789– . description ends 4th Cong., 2d sess., p. 299, 301; U.S. House, Jour., description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1789– . description ends 4th Cong., 2d sess., p. 618–619).
4. Timothy Dwight, The Conquest of Canäan: A Poem, in Eleven Books, Book I, lines 339–342. The first edition was published in Hartford, Conn., in 1785; JA’s library at MB includes a copy of the 1788 London edition (Catalogue of JA’s Library description begins Catalogue of the John Adams Library in the Public Library of the City of Boston, Boston, 1917. description ends ).
5. On 23 Dec. 1796 the Massachusetts Mercury reported, “We can now with safety declare, that JOHN ADAMS, of Massachusetts, is elected President of the United States of America.” The piece also noted that Thomas Jefferson would likely become vice president. The next day the Boston Columbian Centinel congratulated “the citizens of America, on the choice of his Excellency JOHN ADAMS to the distinguished office of President of the United States—an event which must give joy to every friend to the peace and prosperity of our country.”
6. Exodus, 33:15. AA may be referring to one of the many compilations of sermons published by British theologian Samuel Clarke, for whom see vol. 7:150.
7. JA had sent AA a post note for $600 on 22 Dec., asking her to use the money “as frugally as possible.” He also commented on his continuing uncertainty regarding the electoral count (Adams Papers). AA received the note on 4 Jan. 1797 (AA to JA, 7 Jan., Adams Papers).